- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Jonathan Gruber, the White House adviser infamously captured on video crediting Obamacare’s passage to the “stupidity” of the American people, admitted in a 2009 policy brief that the health care package was unaffordable — and the way to trim costs was to make the insured pay for expensive treatments.

The Daily Caller first reported the existence of the policy brief, which included Mr. Gruber’s view that Obamacare was absent any cost controls, and could ultimately prove unsustainable. At the time of his assessment, Mr. Gruber had already served on President Obama’s transition team and had counseled him in the Oval Office, The Daily Caller reported.

“The problem is it starts to go hand in hand with the mandate — you can’t mandate insurance that’s not affordable. This is going to be a major issue,” Mr. Gruber said in his Oct. 2, 2009, lecture, which was then put into the form of a written policy brief.

“So what’s different this time? Why are we closer than we’ve ever been before? Because there are no cost controls in these proposals. Because this bill’s about coverage. Which is good! Why should we hold 48 million uninsured people hostage to the fact that we don’t yet know how to control costs in a political acceptable way? Let’s get the people covered and then let’s do cost control,” he went on, the brief shows.

Mr. Gruber concluded the only way to keep down Obamacare costs would be to deny treatment.

“The real substance of cost control is all about a single thing: telling patients they can’t have something they want,” he said, The Daily Caller reported. “It’s about telling patients, ‘That surgery doesn’t do any good, so if you want it, you have to pay the full cost.’”

Mr. Gruber then suggested there was nothing wrong with telling Americans that they had to pay for expensive medical treatments themselves.

“There’s no reason the American health care system can’t be, ‘you can have whatever you want, you just have to pay for it.’ That’s what we do in other walks of life,” he said, The Daily Caller reported. “We don’t say everyone has to have a large screen TV. If you want a large screen TV, you have to pay for it. Basically, the notion would be to move to a level where everyone has a solid basic insurance level of coverage. Above that, people pay on their own, without tax-subsidized dollars, to buy a higher level of coverage.”

Mr. Obama pushed forward the idea of Obamacare in part by claiming that the reform wouldn’t bring higher costs — but even Mr. Gruber admitted as far back as 2012 that the claim just wasn’t true.

“I wish that President Obama could have stood up and said, ‘You know, I don’t know if this bill is going to control costs. It might, it might not. We’re doing our best,” he said, during a 2012 podcast from San Francisco.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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